Dec 21, 2007

Take Back Your Year - Sign Ups Are Open

Thanks VERY much for all the kind compliments you've sent about Dashing. I'm really looking forward to the reaction these get from the recipient.

And speaking of gift giving...I'm starting a movement and I want you to come along with me. I've created a support group of sorts at

A plan for those of us who make gifts by hand to do so STRESS FREE in 2008. We'll plan, make, and send out our gifts early by working on our gift lists every month, all year long!

Head over there for more details, but I will tell you - there are prizes involved. You don't want to miss this. And if you know someone else who might want to sign up for putting the joy back into giving, send them over to and tell them to sign up too.

Now go eat some Christmas cookies...

Dec 20, 2007

May I Present: Dashing


Dashing Finished 122007 026

That's exactly what these will be doing in tomorrow's mail. Speeding away to their recipient on wings of hope that they'll arrive by Tuesday. Hub claims that all mail delivery services ramp up around this time to get as many gifts delivered by Christmas as possible. I, on the other hand, think that if most of the population is like me, even the great FedEx's of the world will struggle under the weight of tardy packages. But never mind that, it's the thought that counts, right? Right. And the thought behind these is that they are meant to warm the arms of someone I couldn't do without. I know this someone reads this blog, and (gasp!) has even seen me knitting these, but maybe - just maybe - they will still come as a surprise.

Dashing Finished 122007 018

Pattern from Knitty, Spring 2007
Yarn is Webs house brand Valley Yarns Northampton in Dark Grey, 100% Wool
247yds/skein; both arm warmers were knit with less than 1 skein (207.5 yds)

Dashing Armwarmers

Yes those are ends that are not weaved in, but this photo of my blurry li'l one trying to sneak in the picture was too cute not to share.

Knit Notes: What a fantastic pattern! Clear and easy to understand. It claims to be a bit more challenging than it's predecessor, Fetching, but I didn't find that at all. It fed my new found obsession for cables just enough without being overwhelming. The hardest mental exercise was remembering that the cables are meant to cross in opposite directions on opposite hands. I knit them two at a time and just used a stitch marker on one to remind me not to goof that up.
Dashing Cabled Armwarmers Dashing - A Gift

Modifications: Yep!
I wanted these to be much longer than called for, and I also knew going in that my gauge was not quite according to pattern. This yarn is called a worsted, but I think it's more like a "heavy DK" when knit up. The pattern row gauge was 18 rows/in and I was getting 25 rows/in on size 7's (4.5mm). Out came the measuring tape! I just marked where I wanted the cuffs to hit and knit to that measurement. Easy peasy.

I extended the initial ribbing from 4" to nearly 6", and I added length to the hand portion too. I made the thumbs 13 rows long instead of the 9 called for. Essentially, I wanted these long, lean and elegant to match the recipient.

Dashing Finished 122007 022
Cast on Dec. 12; finished and blocking Dec. 20, 2007
Knit 2 at a time using
Magic Loop method

I didn't intend to knit these as a gift. They were actually the do-over I mentioned in our last Round Table Discussion. As I went round and round though, I realized that these were the kind of gift I could feel good about giving. No fuss, flexible sizing, and useful for a good amount of fall, winter and spring time climates.

Oh - and through this project I also discovered that using my tripod and the self-timer on the camera are a match made in blog photo heaven (especially when you have to substitute a model to avoid showing them flat).

Dashing - Finished 122007


Dec 15, 2007

To Finish or To Frog: How Do You Decide? Let's Discuss...

Do you ever stop to think about how many thousands, or more likely millions of stitches pass over our needles in the course of our journey? I would be willing to bet that somewhere along the lines you have actually even counted the number of stitches that make up a project, and I would also bet that bracing yourself doesn't make much of a difference...the resulting number is always something staggering.

Most of us don't knit by the stitch though. We knit until a stitch becomes a row which becomes a section which becomes a piece of the garment, accessory, toy, or household item we set out to create. It is this cumulative nature that I find the most therapeutic (magical!) about knitting. That time plus yarn plus needles equals something that wasn't there before. Time is the prime ingredient. With enough time, we can make
just about anything. There is such possibility in that.

Twisted Maiden in Progress 003

Twisted Maiden Armwarmers - Frogged December 2007

But we know another side of knitting don't we? We know that a project doesn't always flow smoothly from the first stitch cast on to the final row of a finished item.
Like any handmade treasure, a knitted item is only as good as the pattern, or idea, or materials it came from; many times it's goodness is directly related to the the amount of sleep that it's maker has had before beginning it's creation. At times, what lies in between is so disturbing, and so daunting that it had to be given a name. A frightening concept that can reduce even the most resolute knitter to a pool of heartsick mush when they are forced to use the F word.


Some of your stomachs just flipped reading that. I know mine did. Frogging is the term coined to describe the reverse or our beautifully creative flow. The UNdoing of that cumulative process. So named because the action (rip it, rip it!) sounds eerily like the croak of a frog. A frog who lives at the bottom of a pond full of yarn barf. Nature loving though we may be - we hate this pond, and we avoid it whenever possible. At least, most of us do...

WCoK - Raglan V-Neck

Top Down Raglan - Frogged July 2006

I've been knitting over 2 years now, and as that time has passed, I find that instead of visiting the Frog Pond less due to improvement in my skills, I actually have been frogging even MORE of my projects - some of them well underway - because I am unsatisfied with something about the work in progress. In fact, after much deliberation, I actually frogged a completed sweater that I had knit top down because I just couldn't get over how poorly the armhole joins looked, and it bothered me and bothered me until that raglan was frogged back to the yarn cakes from which it came. I'm only surprised by this new tactic to rid myself of "less than perfect" FO's because it really doesn't mirror anything else in my non-knitting life. My mom and I are infamous for Making Do. When pressed, we will take anything in the pantry/craft cupboard/dresser drawer and make it into something that will pass for good enough. Get it done. That's usually the primary goal - mostly because whatever IT is is just a blip on the list of 8 million other things that need to be done.

Not so with my knitting of late. I'm finding that as soon as something starts to trouble me about a project's progress (the gauge seems off somehow, I don't like how this fabric feels on these needles, that cable could reeeeeally use some tightening up...) my brain starts the chant "Frog it and start over. You won't be happy until you do".

Red Raglan Pullover WIP

Toddler Raglan Pullover - Frogged September 2007 to become this

So, as with all of our round table chats - I'm reaching out to YOU now to share your Frog Filosophy. When something is not quite right with your knitting -how quick are you to rip it? What qualifies as a frog-worthy problem in a project? How major or minor does an "uh oh" have to be to get you to rip back and start over? Tell us your worst frogging story. Tell us about a frogging that actually saved your sanity. Have you ever resisted the call of the frog pond, only to press ahead and find a brilliant work around? I'd love to know about it.

In the continued spirit of these discussions, I'm sure you'll find that you are not alone in your experience with this less than rosy side of knit life, so share openly!

When something is not quite right with your knitting, and the time comes

To finish or to frog - How do you decide?

Let's Discuss....

Dec 10, 2007

From the Mouth of Babes

An excerpt from a conversation that took place after a television character asked "What's the secret word?"

Adachi: I Do!

Me: I do is the secret word?

Adachi: Yep

Me: Why is that honey?

Adachi: Because...Everything happens when you say "I do". Your life happens. "I do" is the secret word.

Would you have corrected her to tell her that I Do is actually a phrase?
Nah. Me neither.

She is small this one, but she is wise.

Dec 3, 2007

May I Present: Clapotis (Encore)

It worked! It seems that writing about a knit goal out here really does do wonders for the potential (and success) to actually finish it. Your comments and encouragement did wonders because I knew how good it would feel to finally be able to show you this...

Aunty's Clapotis!

Aunty's Clapotis

Cast on Nov. 22, Ends weaved in Dec.1 (no blocking)

Yarn = Cascade 220 Handdyed Paints in "Indiana Summer"

Needles - KnitPicks circular, US Size 8 (5mm), 24" cable

Mods - Added 1 extra increase repeat , 1 extra straight row repeat, 1 extra decrease repeat

She loves it, I love it, I love her, she loves me - it is a veritable love fest all wrapped up in some stockinette and dropped stitches.

Thanks for being along for this ride. Who knew I could let the yarn fly like that?! I won't let it go to my head though...nothing wrong with a slow knit to balance it out once in a while. And in that spirit, I've already cast on for
this. Turns out that hubby's the only one in the house without a hand-knit sweater...we can't allow that to continue any longer.

Nov 30, 2007

You Can Thank Me Later...Go Go Go

Knitting Daily is having a Contest for a Shopping Spree at your favorite Local Yarn Store. Go enter. I hope you win!!

Clapotis update...I'm in the decrease rows and the light is quite visible at the end of this tunnel. What is it about that segment of a pattern that just makes you fall back in love with the knitting? It must be that sense of "Oh yeah. I can totally do this."

Clapotis in Progress 003

ETA: Zeee Clapotis is FINI (ends weaved in at 4pm on Saturday...with time to spare)
Have a fantastic weekend darlings!

Nov 27, 2007

Travel Tales & Clapotis Countdown

Just a quick update to say that all is well in the (not-so) frozen north. In an event that can only be attributed to the power of a child's wish we landed safely on Thursday right in the midst of the first snow of the season. As we sat on the tarmac for an hour and a half waiting for things to be de-iced and cleared, my two little munchkins were the only ones on the plane clapping and squealing at the white powdery wonderland. Apparently the first snow fall brings about other feelings for residents here.

Travel - Day 1 016
A view from the plane just before landing

Knowing that this first snow wouldn't hang around long, we did all we could to take advantage of it. A quick thrift store stop produced ski pants for the girls to wear so that sledding and snow angels filled the major part of our first 2 days.

Winter Vacation Day3 041 Winter Vacation Day3 031
Winter Vacation Day3 032 Winter Vacation Day3 033

That can certainly wear out even the heartiest cold weather adventurer.

Naptime Day2-2

As for me - I'm fighting the urge to hibernate by committing to a very tight gift deadline. I cast on for my second Clapotis while traveling here last Thursday, and I intend to have it finished by the time we're packing up to leave on this coming Sunday. Why the rush you ask? Well, I want my darling aunty who is feeding us and putting us up all week to have something warm and woolly to remind her of our stay (and hopefully bribe her away from her plan to keep the girls here with her after we're gone, which she has already threatened to do). My calculations say I need to knit 39 rows on it per day for the next 5 days to reach this goal. Knit mojo don't fail me now!

Clapotis 2 in Progress 001 Clapotis 2 in Progress 006
Clapotis #2 in Cascade 220 HandDyed Yarn, Color is Indiana Summer
Knit on KnitPicks Circular US Size 8(5mm)
Winter Vacation Day 2 027

I hope your week is going well too! No need to send warm thoughts our way, we're quite cozy and comfortable wrapped in hand knit goodness and enjoying the blessing of uninterrupted family fun time. Well ok, some warm thoughts would be nice - if it's not too much trouble.

More pictures later this week or when we return!

Winter Vacation Day 2 028

Winter Vacation Day 2 020
Look! Islanders in the snow!

Nov 21, 2007

Each One Teach Two

**Thanks for all of your super nice comments on my last FO; you make this so much FUN**

Now for some news - Adachi has learned how to cast on and knit. Mizan has learned how to cast on and crochet a chain.

Adachi's Knitting Mizan's Crochet

I've introduced Adachi to knitting on a few occasions before, but this time I think it has really stuck. Recently both she and Mizan asked me "Mommy, will you teach me how to knit?", and "Mommy, show me how to crochet." Be still my fiber-luvin heart! I took them to the library post haste; we found some kid-friendly books (I recommend this one in particular), and we sat down and worked at it. I taught Adachi to make a slip knot, how to do the backward loop cast on, and now she's working away on garter rows for a scarf (note: she asked to start with a scarf, I would have had her working on circulars and making a sock first, but patience is a virtue...).

The Girls Start Knitting 001 Adachi Knitting The Girls Start Knitting 006 The Girls Start Knitting 007
Even Mizan got in on the lesson by helping to count stitches.

She even did a few stitches on her own winter hat for the trip:

Adachi's Ribbed Finished Nov 2007

Nature and nurture have really gone hand in hand here. Let me explain what I mean by that. See, I knit alot. Now, even though I don't have huge lacey FO's flying off the needles, and my projects are sometimes few and far between, I knit Every. Single. Day. Sick, well, at home, traveling, in the car, before bed, whenever I can. So since I work from my house, you can imagine that my girls see a whole lotta knittin' goin' on. In fact, I dread the day when someone I work with asks them what it's like having mommy working from home and they chirp joyfully "It's great! She knits all day long, and finds these nice patterns, and talks with her knitting friends". Sigh. A worry for another day. I think that exposure is the first part of the reason that they have shown such a recent interest in learning - the nurture factor; it's just part of their environment.

Part 2 is the influence of their innate creative nature. Both girls like to "make things up", my oldest especially. Like me, they enjoy taking some thing (or many somethings) and turning it into something else. Like this...

The Girls & Crafts 003 Super Saturday - Crafty Hat 2

I became even more aware that this is something that they came to the planet with when I realized that rather than wait for me to do crafty activities with them, they are perfectly content to do their own crafting using original ideas and whatever they can reach in the cupboards (hide your paper towel rolls!).

Allow me to be selfish for just a you realize how much faster my stash would be reduced with THREE knitters in the house? *Sigh* Just add this to the list of the MANY things I'm thankful for in my life.

On that note, I hope that each of you will find an Attitude of Gratitude this holiday that makes you feel way more full than any stuffing ever could. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

Nov 16, 2007

Bring It

Ok winter, c'mon. Let's have it. No sense tiptoeing now...I got my wool, my needles, and my determination. So bring it!

"But Marce", I hear you saying, "Um, honey, you live in FLORIDA".

Yes, I know.

"And were born in JAMAICA".

Uh huh. Right.

"So what gives?"

Well, in a moment of what can only be described as sheer insanity brilliance, we decided that this year's family vacation spot would be Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Average temperature in November? 37.8 Degrees. Not to worry though friends, this is totally doable!! Just ask Stephanie. It's just that kind of icy weather that my knitting journey has prepared me for. The vacation planning has had my needles working overtime lately.

Here's what has come off of them most recently:

Mizan's Raglan Pullover Finished Mizan's Raglan Pullover Finished 004 Raglan Pullover Finished 009

Raglan Pullover, loosely based on the Circumnavigate Pattern from this book
Yarn - Plymouth Encore Worsted in Navy & Wedgewood
Needles - US 6, and 8 KnitPicks Options using Magic Loop method

This sweater is such an easy knit and it's my second time around. I predict I'll make several of them. It's knit from the top down and the raglan shaping is done with M1 (lifted bar) increases randomly spaced throughout the yoke. Loads of possibilities to customize it to your taste.

Next up, the
Utopia Hat from Smariek knits:
Mizan's Utopia Hat Mizan's Utopia Hat 004
Mizan's Utopia Hat 002 Mizan's Utopia Hat 003
Knit with Plymouth Encore Worsted, Walnut color
Needles - KnitPicks Options US Size 8, Magic Loop method (see a theme here?)

This hat pattern is really well done. The decreases work out so well that there is no "nipply" thingy at the top - love that. The cables are pleasing and add to the head hugging factor very well.

Modifications - I knit the starting 2x2 rib longer so that there is no flaring when the cables start. Since this was for my little one, I did 4 repeats of the lower cables and only 2 repeats of the upper cables. Another benefit to knitting in the round on one loooooong 60" circular needle is that I was able to slide the unfinished tube onto the cable and try it on her as I went along so I knew just went to start the decreasing for the crown. I'm very happy with the fit, and so is she!

We head north in one week, and there are more knits to come. What about your winter woolens? I know some of you live in places where heavy fibers are a must! I've got to tell you, I almost envy you (House swap next year?? I'm in!). For those of you who don't knit, but you're starting to feel Jack Frost nipping at your nose, I suggest you befriend a knitter. Quickly. You won't be sorry.

Nov 7, 2007

We Speak Their Names

Jaeger Baby Merino DKI've talked before about my desire to stay more in the present and to acknowledge things (especially the good things) as they are happening. I'm more naturally a past and future dweller, and sometimes that means missing out on the full potential of some feeling or experience. Like most things that are positive, I think this effort to be more aware of the Right Now becomes that much better when it's shared and multiplied. This is where you come in....

HandMaiden_OttawaI thought the other day about all the people that I have met in the last 2 years just because I went into the library one day and came out with a stack of books about knitting. There are people now that I call friends, and when we first met, knitting was the only thing that we knew we had in common. Now, several stitches later, I can say with certainty that my life is better because I have them in it. I would never have guessed that a "hobby" could bring that to my life, but it has, and that deserves some moments of focused gratitude.

Yarn 009One way to honor someone or something in your life is to speak or write about it, and by doing so, you give it a place in your thoughts and in your experience for that moment. So I'm going to list out here (in no specific order) the names of the people that I have met because I knit. By making this list, I mean to say "thank you" to them and "welcome to my life". I can hardly count the many many Internet and blog friends I have made, so for now this list is only of those I have met in person and that I have spent time with in these last two years. When you read this list - and I hope you do - you too will be acknowledging these people and the good that they have added to my life experiences. After that, why not make YOUR list of names in the comments and enjoy a few moments of remembering those people, and what you have shared with them because of this great love of fiber and needles.

Kathy, Sarah, Cindy, Deborah, Maureen, Sean, Shelley, Jody, Robin, Becky, Sharon, Tanya, Rochelle, Judy, Nan, Nancy, Sharlene, Suse, Wendy, Gabrielle, Pam, Kelly, Karen, Andrea, Angelia, Julie, Vickie, Hilde, Michelle

As I think about more of these names and the memories that go with them I will keep adding to this list. I hope you'll do the same.

A special THANKS goes out to Deborah today for letting me know that our gathering place here has been featured in Black Purl Magazine. What a treat!

Oct 24, 2007

May I Present: Baby Cables & Beads

It never fails. Any time I decide to stop hopping all aound in the WIP basket and just settle in to focus on one knit project, it actually gets done! (Shhhh...I'm having a revelation over here, resist the urge to giggle). I was really craving a finished project lately, and I had some extra motivation from Nicole & Jenny to get it done before the end of the month so I could get an entry in their October sock knitting contest. Well, I'm a believer - project monogamy works people...

Baby Cable Rib Socks 028
Yarn - Koigu KPPPM Color #400
Pattern - Baby Cable Rib Stitch from Sensational Knitted Socks
Needles - Knit Picks US 2 (2.75mm); Knit 2 at a time on 2 circulars
CO 9/9/07; Closed the toes on 10/24/07

I must state now that in the interest of blogging, I am doing these socks a severe disservice by putting them on my size (mumble mumble mumble) feet because they are not in fact for me. The are for one of the sweetest moms I know; a mom that did me the biggest favor by giving birth to this darling girl. If that's not worth a pair of handknit socks, well then I don't know what is!

Baby Cable Rib Socks 026 Baby Cable Rib Socks 027
I really wish I could take credit for this black background in the shots,
but it's just something my digicam decided to do! I dig it.

The most obvious modification is that I didn't continue the Baby Cable Rib Pattern down the foot. I realized right around the heel flap section that cables eat up alot of yarn (you don't say??!) and that I would surely run out of yarn before getting to the end of these. I made a good decision as it turns out because I finished with only enough yarn scraps to prove something had been made.

I'm now a committed member of the Koigu fan club. This yarn gave me no trouble at all, and I'm pretty confident that it will hold up well to wear.
I'm not the only crafty chick around here as you know. This weekend we took some inspiration from miss Sarah and made ourselves some beaded bracelets...

Crafty Chicks - Bracelets 009 Mizan & Adachi Oct 21 2007 Crafty Chicks - Bracelets 021
Never a dull moment with these two, and I don't mind that a bit.

Oct 19, 2007

Still Knitting (and a promo!)

Thanks to all of you that have sent your good wishes for my blogiversary - your visits and support do make all the difference!

You know how I feel about supporting our own, right? And by "our own" I mean those that put their hands/hearts/minds to all things creative. Today's post is to show some of that support for a friend of mine (full disclosure, I also wanted to show you some photo proof that I'm still actually knitting). Allow me to introduce you to Sarah's Etsy shop - 579 Jewelry

Baby Cable Rib Sock Progress
I love the color combination in these - she really has an eye for such things.
Light as a feather too - bonus!

She's offering up some beautiful goodies, for you and for your knitting! Sarah has an excellent eye for design and she's quite good at putting together great materials to make something beautiful. Turns out that her talents go beyond just knitting!

Head on over to the shop - all jewelry is on $5, $7, or $9 - and that INCLUDES shipping. won't be sorry you went.

As for me? I've got socks to finish before my UFO list grows legs and kicks me in the...

579 Stitch Marker
Koigu KPPPM in Color 400
Baby Cable Rib Pattern from this great book